This is what I wrote in my journal at around 1 am of my second night in Albania on the mission trip, November 4, 2012:
Day 2, full day – Albania 11-4-12
I am not even sure how to put into words what I am witnessing here. It’s surreal. People are so kind, joyful, and loving and the area is gorgeous & poor & broken & bustling with life all at the same time. It’s strange, you will see people selling junk items and very dirty items roadside and in piles like a yard sale but that is their way of making money. They have these markets that are open where you buy eggs, meat, fruit, etc. The market is not like a store that we are used to, it’s very different from say a Bi-Lo. The restaurant food is crazy cheap here too. They also have this neat dish called byrek that I totally want to try, but it has gluten :-/.
I have met some awesome people. I long for more relationships to come. I want to leave here with many new friends. I want to leave here with connections to come back to. I want this to be an extension of my life. I do not want this to be a once in a lifetime when I was 31 I went on a mission trip and it changed me for a week or three – I want mine and the life of my family to be impacted by this. I want to come back here. I want to connect with these people again, deeply. And I have only been here 2 full days. Two days. Count them, I said two. What else will occur? We are here for just 6 more full days and I have no idea what is yet to come.
I have met strange people and sweet people. Pushy people and flirty people. Lovey people and grumpy people. All kinds, but they are wonderful. I live in a bubble in TN. A bubble where I had no idea what the rest of the world is like. I have now been to Turkey and Europe (Albania) and have seen an intensely different world. It’s very strange being a foreigner. Very strange. Overwhelming at times when you try to do the simplest tasks such as finding a bathroom to ordering a drink. You learn to appreciate things you never even thought of before like the graciously wonderful ability to communicate freely. I have this free ability to communicate fully with others and yet I do not pursue them like I pursue people here. I am a friendly person, but I can be more, and I will be more of the love of God to others, the Albanians are teaching me how to love people in the way that they are loving me.
I want to know more about them, I want to hear their stories and spend time with them and learn about them. What makes them feel blessed and loved. What they believe God is calling them to do and be for him. What makes them feel alive.
I must have gone to bed because the journal entry stopped there. Looking back on my thoughts makes me remember the moments like they were just seconds ago. I will share more of my writings on the blog and will do more reflecting – stay tuned. Love in Christ, Amy